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Grammatical categories of the Verb: Tense, Taxis, Aspect
The finite verb has morphological categories, realized either synthetically or analytically being distinguished by a scarce amount of inflexions and domination of auxiliaries:
Person (first, second, third): I write, you write, he writes;
Number (singular, plural): he writes, they write, she writes, we write;
Tense (present, past, future): I write, wrote, will write;
Aspect (continuous, non-continuous): he wrote, he was writing;
Taxis (perfect, non-perfect): she writes, she has written;
Voice (active, passive): he wrote a letter, a letter was written;
Mood (indicative, imperative, subjunctive): you are writing, Write! You would write.
The peculiarity of a finite verb form in general is that one grammatical form is the bearer of several grammatical meanings of tense, aspect, mood, voice, taxis: read/ past, non-continuous, non-perfect, active, indicative; has been reading/ present, continuous, perfect, active, indicative. We can hardly say that there are pure tenses, moods or aspects; these meanings are always inseparably present in any verb form. The processual meaning embedded in the verbal lexeme is realized in certain time conditions; in other words, objectively existing time distinctions find their expression in verb forms. English grammatical terminology has a special word ‘ tense ’ to indicate time at which a process is viewed as existing, i.e. tense is a linguistic expression of time relations, and it varies showing the subjective indication of time in accordance with the conventions of the language.
Whatever language, time being perceived by a speaker is appraised by him with reference to the moment of its immediate perception, i.e. the moment of speaking, which serves the function of the demarcation between present, past and future. For the speaker it is the primary index of orientation in time. It subdivides the time experience into three segments: the process as experienced at present with the moment of speaking itself and variable time-span extending around it; the experienced process as past preceding the moment of speaking, thus excluding this;
the process following predictably the moment of speaking, which is excluded as well and is experienced as future. Hence, the time involving the moment of speaking is – Present, the time excluding the moment of speaking is – Non-Present (Past and Future). The reference to the moment of speaking is termed as the general invariant grammatical meaning of the category of tense and on its semantic basis build up paradigms of the category of tense. There are two variant grammatical meanings: coincidence and non-coincidence with the moment of speaking. Accordingly there are two categorial forms with corresponding tense forms: Present tenses and Non-Present tenses (past and future). Compare: e.g. He translates articles every week. He is translating the article right now. He h as translated articles all time. He translated the article yesterdays. He had been translating the article for hours until it was ready on time. I expect he will translate the article tomorrow.
The category of tense provides for the absolute expression of time, where the verbal process is evaluated by its connection with the moment of speaking. On the face of verb forms being distinguished as present, past and future, it is undeniable that the verbal process has a secondary or relative time reference. Compare:
e.g. (1) They study foreign languages at University – They have studied / been studying foreign languages over the past few years.
(2) They were studying foreign languages and faced big difficulties – They had been studying foreign languages for a few years before they had a chance to move abroad.
In the sentence ‘ They had completed their tests by 2 o’clock’ ‘completing tests’ is seen as experience before the moment of speaking being non-present and, in the other way, as prior before the second point of reference, precisely ‘by 2 o’clock’, being completed by some other action or point of time. As a result, the verbal process has relative temporal characteristics, which constitute the general invariant grammatical meaning of the category of taxis, which is defined like that: the process measured from some definite moment or action located either in present, past and future. There are two variant meanings: priority and non-priority. With reference to another point of view or event, two categorial forms are identified: Perfect and Non-Perfect, which build up their own grammatical category different from tense and aspect, with the functional content of priority. Priority expressed in present, past and future by perfect forms is contrasted against the non-expression of priority by non-perfect forms.
e.g. Present Non-Perfect: speaks, is speaking;
Present Perfect: has spoken, has been speaking;
Past Non-Perfect: spoke, was speaking;
Past Perfect: had spoken, had been speaking;
Future Non-Perfect: will speak, will be speaking;
Future Perfect: will have spoken, will have been speaking.
In this theory English Perfect Continuous form is interpreted as a peculiar structure or a blend where Perfect form of precedence or priority coexists syntagmatically with the Continuous, which is the form of the progressively developed simultaneousness. For instance, the grammatical meaning of the grammatical form ‘has been talking’ is determined by the combination of the categories specifying the verb as a part of speech. It expresses Present of the category of Tense, Continuous of the category of Aspect and Perfect of the category of Taxis.
On the question of aspect, we must admit that aspective meanings in general reflect the mode of the realization of the process which to a large extent is expressed in the existence of terminative and non-terminative verbs. Terminativeverbs are: arrive, become, bring, burst, catch, close, drop, fall, hit, impress, jump, kill, leave, lose, throw. Non-terminativeverbs are: ache, ask, belong, believe, concern, deserve, exist, grow, have, know, imagine, need, include, sit, want, watch, remember. Commonly, irrespective of timing, process can be either developed at the moment or during the period of time, or undeveloped, i.e. regularly, frequently, repeated, permanently, completed, of single occurrence, etc. The language exposes paradigmatic correlation of verbal forms denoting the given meanings: e.g. painted / was painting / will paint / will be painting / paint / is painting. Thus the verb forms convey the invariant grammatical meaning defined as the manner in which the process expressed by the verb is regarded or experienced. Due to variant grammatical meanings, there are two categorial forms: Continuous and Non-Continuous:
e.g. Present Non-Continuous / Simple: reads;
Present Continuous: is reading;
Present Perfect Non-Continuous: has read;
Present Perfect Continuous: has been reading.
(see the examples above)
To sum up, the verbal primary time denotes the absolute timing of the process, i.e. with reference to the moment of speaking; taxis or time-correlation expresses the timing of the process from the point of view of its relation to the priority, i.e. in reference to another process or event; aspect characterizes the inner qualities of the process specified as its duration, completeness, frequency, habituality, regularity.
subjective indication of time субъективное обозначение времени
conventions of the language принятые в языке нормы
reference to the moment of its immediate perception соотнесенность с моментом непосредственного восприятия
reference to the moment of speaking соотнесенность с моментом говорения
general invariant grammatical meaning of the category of tense обобщенное инвариантное грамматическое значение категории времени
paradigm of the category of tense парадигма категории времени
variant grammatical meanings вариантные грамматические значения
coincidence with the moment of speaking совпадение с моментом говорения
non-coincidence with the moment of speaking несовпадение с моментом говорения
categorial forms категориальные формы
absolute expression of time абсолютное выражение времени
secondary\relative time reference вторичное\относительное выражение времени
general invariant grammatical meaning of the category of taxis обобщенное инвариантное грамматическое значение категории таксиса\временной соотнесенности
Taxis таксис\временная соотнесенность
variant meaning of priority вариантное значение предшествования
variant meaning of non-priority. вариантное значение непредшествования
mode of the realization of the process форма реализации процесса
terminative verbs предельные глаголы
non-terminative verbs непредельные глаголы
способ реализации или восприятия процесса
manner in which the process expressed by the verb is regarded or experienced способ реализации или восприятия процесса